Taoyuan County Fire Department director Hsieh Ching-hsu (謝景旭), who was suspended for one year following an explosion at a fireworks factory last year, has appealed his punishment to the Public Functionary Disciplinary Sanction Commission (PFDSC) on the grounds that the penalty did not conform with the proportionality principle.
“Such disciplinary action clearly does not tally with the principle of proportionality and is rather confusing and upsetting. I have appealed the decision and requested for a re-deliberation to the PFDSC,” Hsieh said.
Two fire department directors — Hsieh and New Taipei City (新北市) Fire Department director Huang Te-ching (黃德清) — were suspended and demoted respectively by the PFDSC in June to take responsibility for two firework explosions that occurred in their jurisdictions last year.
On April 1 that year, a fireworks factory owned by the Wanda Fireworks Company in Taoyuan County’s Guanyin Township (觀音) suffered an explosion which resulted in the deaths of two people as well as one injury.
Later that month, another explosion occurred at an incense shop in New Taipei City’s Wugu District (五股) when a truck driver unloaded 10 tonnes of fireworks, allegedly manufactured by Wanda, in front of the shop and accidentally set them off, leaving four dead and 38 injured.
A total of 66 nearby properties and 75 vehicles were also severely damaged due to the scale of the blast.
The Control Yuan later impeached Hsieh in May for what it said was his failure to supervise and confiscate remaining fireworks on the explosion site in a timely manner following the deadly outburst, leading to part of those undamaged explosives being shipped to the incense shop which indirectly resulted in the second burst.
Huang was also impeached for his lack of supervision that the investigatory agency said had inadvertently resulted in the fatal accident in New Taipei City.
Countering the Control Yuan’s decision to impeach him, Hsieh said that as all the finished and partially finished goods, as well as manufacturing materials, were legally produced by the factory, a confiscation of its legal assets constituted a violation of the Constitution that guarantees the protection of people’s property rights.
Hsieh said that the fire department had acted in accordance with the laws to immediately seal off the blast scene for an investigation into the cause of the explosion and cancelled the company’s permit to manufacture fireworks.
“However, the company is, by law, entitled to the right to freely dispose its self-produced goods, which is why the department could not cite violation of the Firecrackers and Fireworks Management Act (爆竹煙火管理條例) merely based on its partially damaged fire fighting equipment or partly unqualified safety management due to fire or power failure to seize its fireworks,” Hsieh said.